Paralympic Skier Chris Waddell: Overcoming Adversity | Connecting Point | June 5, 2018
Articles Blog

Paralympic Skier Chris Waddell: Overcoming Adversity | Connecting Point | June 5, 2018

November 18, 2019


>>>CHRIS WADDELL IS A 13-TIME
PARALYMPIC MEDALIST AND FIRST PARAPLEGIC TO REACH THE SUMMIT
OF MT. KILIMANJARO. AND HE IS CHANGING THE WAY
PEOPLE SEE DISABILITIES. HE SPOKE RECENTLY AT WEST
SPRINGFIELDL HIGH SCHOOL AND HAS A MESSAGE THAT APPLIES TO
EVERYONE. CAROLEE MCGRATH WAS THERE AND
HAS THE STORY.>>CHRIS WADDELL SPEAKS AT WEST
SPIFFED HIGH SCHOOL, USING A PROGRAM HE CREATED CALLED NAME
TAGS TO BREAK DOWN THE BARRIERS AND TO CHANGE THE LABELS AND
LIMITATIONS STUDENTS AND ADULTS PUT ON THEMSELVES AND OTHERS. HE NEVER SET OUT TO BE A
MOTIVATIONAL SPEAKER, YET NOW THAT’S HIS LIFE’S MISSION. CHRIS WAS A SKI RACER AT
MIDDLEBURY COLLEGE IN VERMONT. BUT IN 1988 WHEN HE WAS ON A RUN
WITH HIS BROTHER AT BERKSHIRE EAST HIS SKI POPPED OFF.>>I FELL IN THE MIDDLE OF THE
TRAIL, DIDN’T MEET ANYTHING BUT THE GROUND AND BROKE TWO
VERTEBRAE.>>THE FALL LEFT HIM PARALYZED
FROM THE WAIST DOWN.>>PARALYZING MYSELF WAS THE
CLOSEST TO DEATH THAT I CAN IMAGINE.>>BUT CHRIS TOLD THE TEENAGERS
WITH THE HELP OF HIS FAMILY HE WAS ABLE TO MOVE FORWARD FROM
THAT INITIAL SHOCK AND DEVASTATION QUICKLY, WITHIN TWO
MONTHS HE WAS BACK AT COLLEGE. AND WITHIN A YEAR HE WAS BACK ON
THE SLOPES.>>STARTED SKIING AGAIN ON A
MONO SKI, 362 DAYS AFTERWARDS. WENT THROUGH THE PROGRESSION,
LEARNED HOW TO MONO SKI WITH MY FATHER. THEN I WENT BACK TO SCHOOL AND
STAYED PART OF THE SKI TEAM AT MIDDLEBURY.>>HE’S THE MOST DECORATED MONO
SKIER, WINNING 12 MEDS ALES, AND IS ALSO A TRACK ATHLETE AND HAS
WON CHAMPIONSHIPS IN BOTH WINTER AND SUMMER GAMES. HE’S BEEN SHARING HIS STORY WITH
AUDIENCE AS CROSS THE COUNTRY AND FOUNDED ONE REVOLUTION, A
NONPROFIT WITH A MISSION OF CHANGING THE WAY PEOPLE WITH
DISABILITIES ARE SEEN BY SOCIETY.>>READY? ONE TWO THREE —
ALL RIGHT. SO THE RESILIENCE PART OF IT IS
IT’S NOT WHAT HAPPENS TO YOU, IT’S WHAT YOU DO WITH WHAT
HAPPENS TO YOU, BURR IT’S ALSO ABOUT FINDING YOUR UNIQUE VOICE. IT’S SO EASY FOR US TO FOLLOW
THE CROWD.>>CONNER McKORM ACT A SENIOR
AT THE HIGH SCHOOL HELPED BRING CHRIS IN AS A SPEAKER. CONNOR IS HEADING TO BOSTON
COLLEGE IN THE FALL. HE WAS LEFT PARALYZED AFTER AN
ACCIDENT IN A POOL IN THE SUMMER OF 2016.>>IT WAS EYE OPENING BECAUSE IT
WAS DIFFERENT THAN WHAT A LOT OF OTHER PEOPLE HAVE SAID FOLLOWING
MY INJURY. A LOT OF PEOPLE WHEN THEY TALK
TO ME ABOUT MY JURY, IF THEY’RE INJURED THEY’LL BE LIKE IT’S
OKAY, YOU CAN GET THROUGH IT. OR SOMETIMES PEOPLE JUST KIND OF
WANT TO PASS YOU BY AND GIVE YOU THINGS, BUT CHRIS REALLY OPENED
MY EYES TO THE IDEA THAT IT’S NOT ABOUT WHAT HAPPENED TO YOU,
IT’S WHAT YOU DO WITH IT. WHAT HAPPENS TO YOU.>>CRISPS INSPIRING MESSAGE
REALLY APPLIES TO ANYBODY, AND HE ENCOURAGINGS STUDENTS TO LOOK
BEYOND THEIR CIRCUMSTANCES AND TO LOOK BEYOND THEIR STRUGGLES
AND HE SAYS THAT SOMETIMES OUR GREATEST CHALLENGES CAN BE
OPPORTUNITIES.>>WE AS AMERICANS LOVE THE
UNDERDOG, RIGHT? WE CELEBRATE THAT EXPERIENCE AND
THERE’S A REASON WHY WE DO THAT BECAUSE THERE ARE SO MANY
UNDERDOGS THAT REPRESENT EXACTLY WHO WE THINK WE ARE. WE’RE ALL UNDERDOGS IN OUR OWN
MINUTES, RIGHT. SO I THINK PART OF IT IS BEING
OPEN TO THAT SENSE OF INSPIRATION, LIKE INSPIRATION
SURROUNDS US. THERE ARE PEOPLE WHO ARE
PASSIONATE ABOUT WHAT THEY DO AND IT’S IN ALL WALKS OF LIFE. SO ONE IS HAVING YOUR EYES OPEN,
BUT TWO IS REALLY FINDING SOMETHING THAT MATTERS TO YOU.>>MIKE IS THE SUPERINTENDENT OF
WEST SPRINGFIELD PUBLIC SCHOOLS.>>THE MESSAGE IS ONE THAT
APPLIES TO EVERYBODY. EVERYONE NEEDS TO KNOW THAT BAD
THINGS CAN HAPPEN. AND HOW YOU USE THAT OPPORTUNITY
TO BETTER YOURSELF OR YOUR COMMUNITY IS REALLY IMPORTANT.>>IN 2009, CHRIS WADDELL BECAME
THE FIRST PARAPLEGIC TO REACH THE SUMMIT OF MOUNT KILAMANJARO,
THE TALLEST MOUNTAIN IN AFRICA. HIS CLIMB WAS ABOUT CHANGING THE
PERCEPTION OF PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES AND HE ENCOURAGINGS
EVERYONE TO SET THEIR SIGHTS HIGH.>>THEY NEED TO KNOW WHAT
MATTERS TO THEM, BECAUSE IT’S REALLY EASY TO BE A VICTIM OF
CIRCUMSTANCE IN SO MANY WAYS, OH, I DON’T HAVE A GREAT JOB,
DON’T HAVE A GREAT LIFE. IT’S LIKE WE’RE A PRODUCT OF THE
DECISIONINGS AND THE CHOICES THAT WE MAKE EVERY DAY.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *